All of a sudden, my library books were all done and gone and I had only the same books on the bedside table that I’ve kept there for years. What is it with the books I own, is it that they sit too long and I put other things on top of them, prioritize around them, neglect them and then when they are all that’s left, realize I hate them for the way I’ve treated them?
On this table I have three parenting books, four novels, and one book of poetry. I keep the poetry there because I love it and I might need to look at it at a moment’s notice. That’s how it is with poetry. It’s Lorna Crozier’s Everything Arrives at the Light and it’s been in my possession for almost twenty years and I love it dearly. I have read it many times.
I have read the parenting books too; How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk (BRILLIANT) and Liberated Parents, Liberated Children: Your Guide to a Happier Family (DITTO) and More Speaking of Sex (FABULOUS).
But the novels. I just can’t seem to do it. Songdogs. The Book of Negroes. The Cellist of Sarajevo. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. All these books, acclaimed and loved, acquired on purpose. I bought two, borrowed one and was given the fourth. And I want to read them! But I don’t want to read them, or I would have read them by now. I have read the first few pages of each and then I put them down and reach for the latest library book and if, like the other night, I realize I have no library book, I read one of the parenting books again, or just go to sleep.
It’s not that they’re all depressing. I read depressing books all the time. It’s not a problem.
More and more, I find myself not re-reading old favourite books, not revisiting anything I’ve got on the shelf. I go to the library, I read new (or new to me) stuff, I take it back. Is it a switch to the culture of temporary? Resistance to what I “should” be reading? Am I a library addict? (I feel certain there are friends of mine who would scoff at such a label.) That is, in part, why I started writing down all the books I read this year, as well as a few paragraphs about each one. I didn’t want to forget, or let the books just slip out of my brain when I am done with them and they go back to the library.
These books sitting next to me while I sleep, waiting quietly for me to pick them up and love them, they exert too much pressure. Tonight I will put them away and if I don’t go looking for them within a year, I will give them away. Resentful books can’t exist in a happy home.